I hope you’re not tired of hearing how amazing the Noodlehead Cargo Duffle is because I have one more project inspired by it to share with you today. Well, actually two projects really – matchy backpacks made for my girls with some amazing Ann Kelle fabric! The whole project came about because I really wanted to make the girls some backpacks to use on our plane trip from Toronto to South Texas. I didn’t want to drag along my oldest’s school bag and my youngest has a Made by Rae Toddler Backpack that was not as large as I wanted for this trip. That said, I’m not sure those are really great reasons for making these – but I deemed it a necessity anyhow! And, despite what likely was not-so-good judgement I stayed up until all hours until the last day finishing bits and pieces of them in between family holiday get-togethers.

* Edited (2015-03-04): I’ve posted a mini tutorial on how to make these backpacks! *

The pattern is based on the free Cargo Duffle pattern that Anna from Noodlehead has available on the Robert Kaufmann site. I made these taller than wide and re-did almost all of the measurements. They now have handles, straps, one pocket instead of two and a few other things inside. I also substituted elastic loops and buttons for the snaps because they are easier for my girls to use. I think it turned out just as cute as the snaps – much nicer than the single button I’m used to using.

The girls picked the Ann Kelle “Girl Friends” (in Bright) fabric themselves. Despite me having laid out my Tula Pink Acacia and Rashida Coleman-Hale Koi for them to choose from! Of course, since they both chose the same 1/2 metre of fabric I had to be extra creative cutting everything out. I used up every scrap of that fabric, the last 5″x6″ piece is behind the address card slots on the inside of each bag!

Speaking of the inside. I added a hanging loop so they can hang their sunglasses cases, and two water bottle pockets to the inside of each. I thought that outer water bottle pockets could be tricky to work with when we stashed their bags under the seats on the plane. I also added a mesh pocket so their friends (ie – teddy, buggy and zebra) would have a safe ride. I randomly already had some dollar store zippered mesh wash bags that were exactly the right size, so I cut the backs off of them and stitched them to the inside-back of the backpack. No zipper installation needed!

I think the only thing I’m not so happy with are the handles. I think I made them a bit too wide, but I didn’t have the time to re-do them – especially since the super-cute crowns from the selvage edge were already securely attached! I was happy though, to remember to use my Riley Blake chevrons and dots again. The green and yellow work well for the inside lining of the bags and make everything a bit more fun!

I have to say it was super satisfying flying around with all of these handmade bags! This pattern turns out so well and is really durably made. I’m in a huge debt to Anna for having taught me how to quilt these pieces together and I can see using this technique in a ton of other projects. Besides, it’s really fun to add a little bit of loopy free motion quilting to something and this project is full of possibilities!

I’ve got a few more Christmas projects to share this week, now that they have been given and received. I am curious – have you done a lot of free motion quilting? What is your favorite design to quilt?